Albuquerque

Life has a way of continuing to surprise us.  Without going into detail – it very recently arose that we may be moving to Albuquerque, NM.  It’s a fairly complicated thing to piece through – but it largely has to do with Derek’s job.  Nonetheless – we took a pretty last minute trip out to Albuquerque to assess whether it was somewhere we could imagine living.  Derek has been traveling there for business for many years, but I had never been.

My first view from the plane window:

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To be honest, flying in was pretty beautiful as there are some gorgeous mountains and plateaus on the way in.

The first afternoon we spent walking around Old Town – a cute square with lots of fun shops to wander through.  Of course, I managed to buy a little something – a bear charm:

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It’s the “grandmother” charm and stands for strength and courage.  Well – if this move becomes a reality – those are two things that I will need for sure!

Friday night was a wonderful dinner with Seth and Lacey at their home.  Seth is a colleague of Derek’s and a driver in getting us to potentially move out there.  Dinner was fantastic and they were so gracious to show us around various neighborhoods and give us a sense of life in Albuquerque.

Saturday – we took the tram to the top of Sandia Mountain.  Gorgeous.

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The views were stunning and there were walking/hiking/running (whatever you prefer) trails all over.  At the top – we saw some women who were just completing a 9 mile run up the mountain in preparation for the La Luz race (which runs up the La Luz trail).  Yeah – that’s probably something I’ll have to try if I move out there…

We tried out a New Mexican restaurant for lunch – Sadie’s.  The salsa was hot and addictive.  I ordered the carne adovada.  I have to say – I didn’t love it – a bit too greasy for me.  In addition to the customary chips and salsa, apparently it is the norm to serve sopapaillas with the meal (like bread).  They have honey on the table for you to put in these delicious, warm, fried dough pockets.  OMG – yeah – if we move here, we’re going to have to make sure that they don’t bring those to the table – otherwise I won’t be able to resist them.

The afternoon was some lovely wine-tasting at two local wineries.  The first was Casa Rondena – really gorgeous grounds, hard to believe it’s just smack dab by the city.

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And their wines were tasty too – I particularly liked the Viognier.  The second stop was at Gruet (advertised in the Southwest Airlines magazine).  They are known for their sparkling wines.  Decent – but nothing wowed me.

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We had a lovely dinner at Farm & Table that night.

Sunday morning – ran the Bosque Trail to get my 13 miles in.  Big test – would I enjoy running out there?  There are trails everywhere – so it’s incredibly easy to get outdoors and be active.  The Bosque is nice – and the altitude of Albuquerque is good training.  It was a tough run at the end because of the altitude and heat.

We met another former colleague of Derek’s for brunch at the Frontier – a college-type hangout.

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We were told we should order the cinnamon roll (or sweet roll?)  It was pretty good – but we probably should have eaten it right when it came out for it to be at its tastiest.

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We ended our weekend by driving up to Santa Fe to check it out.  By this time, I was kind of bushed and not real interested in shopping – so the wandering around wasn’t as much fun as usual.  But we did hang out on the balcony of a brewery on the main square and watched the world go by.  Quite entertaining – there was some strange car parade going on – with souped up cars that had hydraulic suspensions.  And an incredibly enthusiastic balloon art guy.

For our final dinner, we decided to try New Mexican cuisine again – this time at El Pinto.  El Pinto is an enormous restaurant – with its outside patio seating, it seats up to 1100 (only 400 or so inside).  And the patio was really pretty.  The food was delicious – we both really enjoyed it.

All in all – we had a great time in Albuquerque.  It seemed like a place we would enjoy living in – the activeness of the lifestyle fitting who we are right now.  So stay tuned – no decisions have been made yet…

Buffalo or bust – part 2

Race day dawned!  To be honest, this was originally a marathon goal race for Rozzie and me – but life intervened and, so, a half marathon it would be.  I think Rozzie was still looking at it as a goal race.  For me – I was/am in the middle of my training cycle for my goal marathon in September.  This race came really early in the cycle – so I was partially viewing it as a training run (but of course I would run hard, just no taper or real prep leading into it).

The gang before the race:

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The course was designed so that you ran by the same point like 3 times – which was great for spectators.  Eileen manned the camera and did such a super job capturing all of us running!  Here are two of me at about the 10k point – man do I look happy – trust me, I doubt I was that happy!  And check out Derek’s running form (he was leg 3 of 4)

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I finished in PR time (1:44:04) – so I was pleased with that – not bad for a race that I hadn’t tapered for!  Roz got 2nd in her age group and a PR to boot!  I did have to go on a frenzied solo driving trip through Buffalo to go pick Derek up at the 30k point, but otherwise, all was good.

After a quick lunch and showers – we headed to the wineries near Niagara-on-the-lake.  We eventually stopped at three different wineries: Pillitteri, Lailey, and Trius by Hillebrand and tried sparklings, still wines, and ice wines!  The ice wines were surprisingly delicious – I had had them before, but always found them too cloying in the past.  Part of the gang in our “private” room at Pillatteri:

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Since we were in the “tasting” mood – we also stopped at  Tim Horton’s to give everyone the full Canadian experience.  And we did a Timbits tasting!  My absolute favorites are chocolate and sour cream timbits – and usually we just get those two flavors.  But we added Dutchies and Honey Crullers to the tasting menu.

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We finished the day off by stopping at a brewery for a tasting (Oast) – Noel, Carlos, and Eileen managed to sneak in two breweries.

Another wonderful evening, a morning recovery run, and a final breakfast with the whole gang:

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Once again, as always, with my Peacock friends – it was an amazing weekend.  One that really makes you relish life!

(photos courtesy of Beth)

Buffalo or bust – part 1

On Memorial Day weekend – Derek and I headed up to Buffalo, NY for a Team Peacock gathering!  Team Peacock is this fantastic group of people I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of – we met through running Disney races and have become so much more than that.  This gathering didn’t have the full peacock complement – but it was a good portion.  We rented a house on Grand Island with a beautiful view of the Niagara River (you could even see the mist from the Falls in the distance).

Everyone arrived Friday and after Scott (our resident chef) made a wonderful risotto dinner, we sat on the porch to watch the sunset.  And sat, and sat, and sat – it took awhile for the sun to set.  Luckily, the wine kept us relatively warm!

Saturday – after a brief shake-out run, we headed to packet pickup.  There were six of us running.  Four were doing the marathon relay (3 people run a leg of 10k and the last person runs 12k home):

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Our relay team:  Beth, Derek, Scott, and Carlos!

Rozzie and I were both running the half marathon and we had several “fans”.  The whole gang:

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We then went to Pano’s in Buffalo to meet Derek’s parents for a nice long lunch.  After lunch – we headed to Niagara Falls as several people had never been.  We stayed on the American side as the border crossing was a nightmare that day.  The American falls:

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But of course – we took the Maid of the Mist to get up close and personal with the falls.  After passing through the requisite smurf factory:

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we were ready to ride.  When you head into the horseshoe of the Canadian falls – the “mist” is pretty intense.

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The girls:

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The evening ended in the “usual” way – grilling for dinner, a beautiful sunset, and some wine.

(photos courtesy of Beth)

EEC and Dream Cruise – the ending

 

 

We planned our trip so that we didn’t have to fly home right after the cruise – which ended up working out great, because we had a little more fun to look forward to on debarkation day.  The whole debarkation process was very quick and smooth – we caught a bus back to our resort (Animal Kingdom Lodge) and were checked in by 9:30 or so.  We didn’t have park tickets for the day – so we wandered around Downtown Disney in the afternoon.  We had early reservations at Hoop-dee-doo Musical Revue!

We like to try out as many things as possible on property – always trying new restaurants, parties, shows, etc.  I had only been to the Revue once back when I was a child and Derek had never been – so we figured it was time to head over to Fort Wilderness for some hootin’ and hollerin’.  If you’ve never been – the Revue includes a family-style meal of cornbread (so yummy), fried chicken, ribs, beans, corn, and strawberry shortcake plus all-you-can drink of wines (white, red, rose), Sangria, and sodas.  The food was all really well done – it’s simple food, but very tasty.

The cornbread was so good – that I had to include a picture :).

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The strawberry shortcake was also quite memorable and we finished way too much of our skillet.  The show itself involves six performers (three couples) on stage performing various skits and songs.  It was a fun show with a lot of audience involvement.

Later that night, we met up with our friends Beth and Noel again – for drinks at the Top of the World Lounge.  Beth had a surprise for me – a Dumbo!  We are all doing the Dumbo Double Dare over Labor Day in Disneyland – and I had fallen in love with the adorable stuffed Dumbo the last time we were together in WDW.  So great of her – and here is a pic of Dumbo meeting the Chippies:

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It seemed like they had lots to talk about and they always seemed to be plotting something…

The next day, Derek and I headed to Epcot to enjoy the Flower & Garden Festival – and to check out the food kiosks that they added to the Festival.  First – a walk through the butterfly garden:

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Then enjoying the flowers in Future World:

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Because we really had no plans for this day, we were taking it very easy. So we decided to go see the American Adventure and arrived in time to see the entire Voices of Liberty show.  I have to admit – this group is very popular – but I had never had that great an appreciation for them.  To be fair, we had never caught a full show and always ended up milling about the room, not in the rotunda area itself.  This time, we were sitting on the benches just inside the rotunda – and I think it made a huge difference.  Their combined voices sounded wonderful and we both really enjoyed the show.

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Finally – a few pics of the view from our room!  We love the Animal Kingdom Lodge and, even though we booked a Value room, we lucked out and got a Savannah View.  We sat and ate dinner on our balcony, enjoying the view of the savannah – lots of activity out there.

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Just to prove that Dumbo has not been a good influence on the Chippies – Derek snapped this picture of the three of them – apparently having emptied a bottle of wine:

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EEC and Dream Cruise – Remy

Good friends of ours had really encouraged us to make reservations at Remy.  This is a higher-end restaurant onboard the Dream where you pay an extra fee (for Remy it’s $75pp) for a meal there.  Remy is inspired by the movie Ratatouille and serves fine French cuisine.  It’s an elegant space and an extended meal. Continue reading